Thursday, January 10, 2008
As I’ve already mentioned - albeit rather cryptically - I got my panties all in a bunch yesterday, and although I tend to get myself in trouble whenever I try to discuss political issues (mainly because I feel grossly inept in that arena), I still feel it necessary to vent a few things. I’ll try my best not to offend and/or come off sounding like a complete moron. And so it goes…

Call me incredibly naïve, but I began the year excited and hopeful about election ’08. For one of the first times ever there’s actually a candidate that I’m excited to vote for, one who I think might be electable, and who is not merely the least of all possible evils. But wouldn’t you know it - when the Michigan primaries roll around Tuesday next, I won’t be able to vote for him. Instead, I can either cast an incredibly unsatisfactory “uncommitted” vote, or I get to choose – yet again- between the lesser of two evils. The whole thing makes me feel like crying. Or swearing. Or both.

And speaking of naïve, imagine my shock when I opened up a forwarded email message yesterday warning me that my candidate has a secret MUSLIM history. *Gasp!* I guess I’m not particularly shocked by swirling propaganda aimed at the candidate of color with the foreign sounding name, but nonetheless the insinuation that Obama = Muslim = terrorist got under my craw - so much so that I did something incredibly stupid. I brought up politics in the lunchroom.

Naturally, after venting my irritation to my all-female lunch colleagues, the subject of Obama’s race led to the subject of Hillary’s gender. I’m not a Hillary supporter – mostly because I feel she’s dangerously unelectable rather than because I’m at personal or political odds with her - but I was still shocked when the overwhelming majority of the women in the room admitted that they don’t like Hillary because she’s – get this - a woman. Really? Really? One woman even went so far as to call her “robotic, calculated and cold” in one breath, and then criticize her for ‘crying’ (which was really more like ‘misting’) at the New Hampshire primaries in the next. Come on, ladies, think – how can she be both emotionless and yet too emotional? Of course, this is all coming from the same colleague who lamented that today’s youth vote based on issues rather than along party lines - as if thoughtfully choosing a candidate based on their actual message was an incredibly stupid thing to do.

And so frustrated, defeated, and more than a little depressed, I headed back to my classroom to face those very kids who will one day dare to vote on something as foolish as issues. We are wrapping up our study of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (a book recently banned from my school’s American Literature required reading list), and so I decided it would be appropriate and prudent for us to explore the controversy of racism in connection to the novel. And explore we did, or at least attempted since the majority of my mostly white students are resistant – some even outright angered – to the suggestion that some may consider the novel to be racist by today’s standards. In fact, my 6th hour was so disgusted with me after making them explore the position that Twain’s inspiration for Jim came from his love of Blackface Minstrel shows rather than any real first-hand knowledge of the true slave experience that they completely shut down. Forced to make them voice their reactions in writing, one student responded, “I don’t care about any of this, and think it's a giant waste of time. It's just a dumb story, it doesn't mean anything, and I just don’t agree with you. Sorry.” As if I had ever given them my opinion on the matter. I wrote back, “I’m not trying to get you to think a certain way, rather I’m trying to get you to THINK! Some might say that's an important skill to have.”

And I wanted to add that perhaps he should abstain from voting until he was better able to think, but judging by the day’s previous events thinking isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for making judgments or decisions. Sigh…


Blogger Carrie said...

Luckily enough for me (or us), working in a university means that I'm surrounded by fairly like-minded people, otherwise I'd wanna scream.

I hate that more women don't like Hillary. Is there any female you would like as a presidential candidate? Are we just out of luck as a gender then? I think in reality, Hillary is probably much warmer than she comes across, but to be a successful female in politics, you have to mirror your male counterpoints, which ends up with you being labeled as a cold bitch.

I also can't stand the whole concept of electibility. It's such an unmeasurable concept, yet it gets bandied about so much, that everyone talks about it without having a clear definition of what it means. Haven't we learned now that we can't trust the whims of the voting public? As evidenced by the hate mail you recieved, there is plenty that dumb people could find unelectable about Obama. And did anyone really think that Bush the moron would be electable? I think that that if we focus too much on finding a candidate that's electable, we're losing sight of the larger goal of finding a candidate that can actually lead.

Blogger Mrs. White said...

Carrie, regarding electability, I agree with you in theory. However, I still have the bitter taste of the '98 Michigan State governor election lingering in my mouth. Democrats chose a wholly unelectable candidate - Geoffrey Fieger - and thanks to that John Engler cakewalked his way to a second term, and four more years to continue effing up the state.

And don't even get me started on the Nader/Gore split.

The thing is, whether it's warranted or not, a significant number of people flat out despise Hillary, and that makes her a very scary choice. At least, it does for me.

As for being surrounded by like-minded people, the truth is I really don't care about that. Coming from a family of staunch Republicans I'm very used to being around people who disagree with me. Like I said in this post regarding my student on Huck Finn - I don't need people to agree with me so long as their opinions are backed by a semblance of logic.

Blogger Mary said...

I'm ok with voting for Hillary. I like Obama better. So when the primary comes to Ohio, I'll vote for Obama, but if its Hillary on the big ticket I'll vote for her.

I like them both really.

Blogger JMW said...

I know it's hard to prove this since Hillary's the first viable female candidate for president in U.S. history (pathetic enough), but I certainly wouldn't mind voting for a woman. But given that 95% of politicians have glaring flaws, what were the odds that that first viable female candidate would be one who I'd like to vote for? Not great.

It would be nice to think that more female candidates will emerge in the coming years.

Post a Comment

<< Home